Despite the increase in hospitalizations expected within two weeks, public health does not intend to extend the wearing of mandatory masks beyond May 1, unless the virus decides otherwise.
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“It’s really not the intention,” said the acting national director of public health, Dr. Luc Boileau, providing an update on the pandemic on Friday.
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“The weather could help too, so we don’t intend to continue this in May,” he said.
In the meantime, “the experts are unanimous,” said Dr. Boileau. “The upward trend could probably continue for another two weeks,” he warned.
Despite some stabilization in Gaspésie, Îles-de-la-Madeleine and on the North Shore, the trend is still on the rise in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, in Bas-Saint-Laurent, in the Capitale-Nationale , Chaudière-Appalaches, Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec.
In the greater region and in Montreal and Estrie, which have been a little less affected so far, vigilance is required, as everywhere else.
Over the past 24 hours, more than 3,500 new cases have been reported (despite restricted access to PCR tests) and around 50 COVID patients have been added to the hospitalization toll.
In the health and social services network, more than 13,000 workers are absent, which increases the risk of postponing surgery and breaking service.
“Even if Quebec has begun a return to a more normal life in recent weeks, the situation remains fragile, repeated Dr. Boileau. We must not forget that the virus is still very present and that the pandemic is not over yet. »
As the long Easter holiday approaches next week, the big boss of public health invites Quebecers to exercise “great caution”, in particular by remembering that a person infected with the virus remains contagious for 10 days.
In this context, Dr. Boileau considers that extending the wearing of mandatory masks in public places until the end of April is the lesser evil, even that he would not be surprised if other provinces or states follow suit.
Once this last population measure has been lifted, public health will want to stick to “encouraging people to behave responsibly”.
Whatever happens, the possibility of adding new measures is always ruled out.
“We have no projection that leads us to have hospitalization rates, numbers of hospitalizations as high as what we experienced in January,” reported Dr. Boileau.
“The intention is really to return to as normal a context as possible, but we do not decide that, he recalled. It’s the contagion that will decide that, it’s the measures taken by everyone in a responsible way, by all citizens. »